Emergency Funds Needed to Fight Border Violence
Southern Border Lawmakers Urge House Leadership to Approve Emergency Funds to Combat Border Violence, Cartels
Border Members of Congress, including Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), are urging the Speaker of the House to provide emergency funding to fight drug-related violence along the U.S. Mexico Border. In a letter signed by nine congressional members from Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico, lawmakers call the recent upswing in border violence a demonstrated need for immediate funds to secure the border.Border Members of Congress, including Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), are urging the Speaker of the House to provide emergency funding to fight drug-related violence along the U.S. Mexico Border. In a letter signed by nine congressional members from Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico, lawmakers call the recent upswing in border violence a demonstrated need for immediate funds to secure the border.
“We are at a tipping point,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism. “Either we immediately send additional resources to our border or we wait and watch the violence unfold across the Rio Grande. Our options are clear and we need Congress to move.”
Congressman Cuellar represents 220 miles along the Texas southern border including his hometown of Laredo, Texas, positioned alongside the Rio Grande. Two weeks ago, an unknown attacker threw a bomb at the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo just across the river in neighboring Mexico.
As a result of ongoing border violence, including the March double shootings of Americans in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, members of the Congressional Border Caucus, led by House Select Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, last week sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that emergency funds to secure the southern border be included in the fiscal year 2010 emergency supplemental package. The bill is currently being drafted by the House Committee on Appropriations.
“The violence facing Mexico is having a particular impact on our communities and our sister cities as the Mexican government clamps down on criminal organizations,” the members of Congress write in a letter singed April 16, 2010. “As members representing border districts, we have seen first hand the impact the violence has on communities on both sides of the border.”
Two weeks ago, Congressmen Reyes, Cuellar and Ed Pastor of Arizona met with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon to discuss the future of the $1.3 billion Merida Initiative, a cooperative effort between the United States and Mexico to combat drug and weapons trafficking. Multiple reports indicate that of the $830 million allocated to Merida since 2007, just $128 million has been received in military equipment and training in Mexico.
“The popular consensus from both sides of the border is the need for speed,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Our border communities have braced themselves for a spillover of violence and the burden is falling on local law enforcement at home. This is why we have laid out a framework with concrete numbers for Congress to move on.”
Topping the list is a request for $200 million to support law enforcement’s communications capabilities in remote areas along the border where there are known critical needs, plus an additional $50 million for Operation Stonegarden which assists the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement in fighting border related violence, weapons and drug trafficking.
All border members agree the nation’s land ports of entry are critical to securing the border and vitally important to trade. They requested $100 million to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sustain border agent salaries in the face of budget deficits at the nation’s land ports. In addition, they requested a minimum of $70 million to hire an additional 500 CBP officers to immediately alleviate understaffed ports of entry.
An additional $32.2 million was requested to help CBP hire 207 border patrol agents for the southern border to avoid straining existing human resources or deplete CBP assets from other areas. Members also asked for $39.6 million to help prevent attempted cartel-corruption in CBP by drug trafficking-associated applicants. These funds would be used specifically to help the agency conduct background investigations and polygraph tests.
“The will of governments and communities in the U.S. and Mexico to combat criminal elements is strong,” wrote U.S. Representatives Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Bob Filner (D-CA), Harry Teague (D-NM), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Susan Davis (D-CA) and Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). “And the United States and Congress must continue to honor that resolve with needed funding to aid those serving on the front lines at this critical juncture.”
For more information or to view a copy of the letter, please visit: /UploadedFiles/Reyes-_PDF_FY10_Supplemental_Appropriations_Letter.pdf